China’s sudden ‘reopening’ reveals new economic challenges

People line up outside a fever clinic in Beijing on Dec. 14, 2022, just days after the country relaxed its Covid controls amid below-freezing weather in the capital city.

Yuxuan Zhang | Afp | Getty Images

BEIJING — Mainland China’s swift rollback of many Covid-related restrictions has been unexpectedly sudden, revealing a new set of economic challenges.

In the last two weeks, local and central government authorities relaxed several measures that had forced many people to stay home and businesses to operate mostly remotely. Notably, the central government said last week negative virus tests and health code checks were no longer needed to travel domestically.

Meanwhile, reports of locals falling ill have surged. Beijing city said that on Sunday, its fever clinics saw 22,000 visits — up 16 times from a week ago.

“This reopening has come rather suddenly, and rather resolutely. It’s exceeded our expectations,” said Gang Yu, co-founder and executive chairman of 111, an online seller of medicines and health-care services. That’s according to a CNBC translation of his comments in Mandarin.

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